By: Kate Mosse
I’ve been meaning to post up this review for the past few months but for some reason I didn’t get around to it *blushes* But here I am doing it now 🙂
In 1891, young Léonie Vernier and her brother Anatole arrive in the beautiful town of Rennes-les-Bains, in southwest France. They’ve come at the invitation of their widowed aunt, whose mountain estate, Domain de la Cade, is famous in the region. But it soon becomes clear that their aunt Isolde—and the Domain—are not what Léonie had imagined. The villagers claim that Isolde’s late husband died after summoning a demon from the old Visigoth sepulchre high on the mountainside. A book from the Domain’s cavernous library describes the strange tarot pack that mysteriously disappeared following the uncle’s death. But while Léonie delves deeper into the ancient mysteries of the Domain, a different evil stalks her family—one which may explain why Léonie and Anatole were invited to the sinister Domain in the first place.
More than a century later, Meredith Martin, an American graduate student, arrives in France to study the life of Claude Debussy, the nineteenth century French composer. In Rennes-les-Bains, Meredith checks into a grand old hotel—the Domain de la Cade. Something about the hotel feels eerily familiar, and strange dreams and visions begin to haunt Meredith’s waking hours. A chance encounter leads her to a pack of tarot cards painted by Léonie Vernier, which may hold the key to this twenty-first century American’s fate . . . just as they did to the fate of Léonie Vernier more than a century earlier.
I read this book before I read her first installment of the trilogy, Labyrinth, since it we had it in the house. I have read the first novel since and I have to say that Sepulchre is my favourite of the two. The atmosphere of the novel (the storyline taking place in 1891 with Leonie) reminds me a lot of Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind, with the events transpiring and just the overall feel of the setting. I thought the writing was also much more solid in this novel than Labyrinth in that it didn’t have that awkward present tense opening and closing chapters (or maybe I’m just so embedded in field of history that present tense is like an alien planet to me).
Moving along, I thought the story overall was interesting and how Mosse managed to draw the two storylines together. I personally thought Leonie’s story was much more interesting aside from the fact that there’s this mood that hovers over her story and adds to the mystery (not to mention that foreboding feeling that things are going to go wrong at any moment). The interaction amongst the characters were enjoyable to read and the drama that encircled them really caught my attention. This isn’t to say that Meredith’s story wasn’t interesting too, it’s just that her storyline had a tendency to slow down, making me antsy for the narration to switch back to Leonie’s side. I thought Leonie’s story went at a very good pace in terms of the overall story.
Meredith’s, as I mentioned, did tend to slow down a bit, especially in the middle. There’s less characters involved in her story, but the way that her story traces Leonie’s journey was interesting in its own way. There was one particular scene that I was a bit iffy about in terms of how it was written; for a very intimate moment, it felt rather mechanical and out of place from the rest of the novel. The climax of the novel, where both storylines come together, requires a bit of suspension of reality on the part of the reader but the rest of the novel had my attention completely that I didn’t mind, it made sense with what was going on.
Overall, definitely an interesting read if you’re into books in the likes of Dan Brown and Steve Berry. 🙂